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Morning news headlines for January 18, 2013
Unemployment lowest since Summer 2008; GM bringing more jobs to Parma; Two charged after bullets fly into house

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
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  • Unemployment rate falls again
  • GM shifting jobs to Parma plant
  • Job and Family Services to consolidate offices
  • Two men charged after AK-47 bullets hit homes
  • Yost wants multiple head counts from all schools
  • RTA rolls out hydrogen-powered bus
  • Former hospital worker fired for not getting flu shot sues
  • Racinos continue planning
  • Lawmakers to consider payment to wrongfully imprisoned man
  • Geese and ducks found dead in Metropark were shot
  • FirstEnergy Stadium deal worth about $6 million per year
  • Unemployment rate falls again
    The unemployment rate in Ohio is the lowest it’s been since August 2008. State officials released the newest numbers this morning. The rate fell to 6.7 percent in December. That’s down from 6.8 percent in November. Ohio's unemployment rate has remained below the U.S. rate, which was 7.7 percent in November.

    GM shifting jobs to Parma plant
    General Motors will be shifting as many as 200 jobs to its Parma plant by this summer. The move comes as GM closes one of its Michigan plants that employs about 325 workers and sends those employees to other facilities. The Plain Dealer reports, however, that union leaders in Parma say they’ll be getting more work than the transferred employees will be able to perform. Parma's facility currently employs more than 1,400.

    Job and Family Services to consolidate offices
    A plan to consolidate 13 offices is expected to save Ohio's human services agency about $2 million annually. The Department of Job and Family Services says the plan to minimize vacant office space will begin this spring and finish by year's end. Nearly 100 employees at its Canton office will be relocated to sites in Akron and Youngstown. The department's director says that while moving to new locations might present challenges for some employees, the plan preserves jobs. The state says none of the affected offices provide in-person services, so customers will experience no change in service.

    Two men charged after AK-47 bullets hit homes
    Two Northeast Ohio men have been charged after bullets from their AK-47 firearm struck nearby homes while target shooting.  Mark Bornino of Medina and Daniel Volpone of Parma were arrested and jailed after police responded to complaints from neighbors in Montville Township. The Plain Dealer reports one of the homes had two AK-47 bullet holes through the walls.

    Yost wants multiple head counts from all schools
    Ohio’s auditor says he wants schools to be required to do official head counts of students several times a year in an effort to stave off future attendance manipulation by district. The Columbus Dispatch reports that’s one of David Yost’s proposals in light of a six month investigation into schools - including Columbus - that allegedly altered student attendance data to improve their academic performance. This includes withdrawing and re-enrolling students with lots of absences or poor test scores. Currently, schools must do one head count a year, in October. Yost is expected to release findings of the statewide investigation later this month.

    RTA rolls out hydrogen-powered bus
    A potential public transit vehicle of the future hit the road Thursday in Cleveland. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has started hauling passengers in an experimental hydrogen-powered bus. Unlike the diesel-powered buses RTA and other transit agencies use, the only emission from the hydrogen bus is water vapor. The bus was designed and built by United Technologies Corporation, a Vermont-based fuel-cell maker. RTA spokeswoman Mary Shaffer says the several-month-long experiment will help the company with future designs. The experimental bus cost about $2 million, while the typical diesel bus costs about half-a-million. NASA Glenn is supplying the hydrogen refueling equipment. The project is partly supported by the Federal Transit Administration which is gauging the practicality of hydrogen-powered buses.

    Former hospital worker fired for not getting flu shot sues
    A former Ohio hospital worker has filed a lawsuit after she was fired for refusing to get a flu shot because she's vegan. The woman was fired from Cincinnati Children's Hospital 2010 because she refused the shot that contains a small amount of egg protein.  She alleges religious discrimination and is seeking more than a half million dollars.  The case is now set for trial in July. The hospital argues that veganism is not a religion. Requiring employees to get a flu shot is standard at many hospitals..

    Racinos continue planning
    Plans for a new racino in Youngstown are moving forward. On Thursday, Penn National Gaming and Turner Construction met with subcontactors to discuss floor plans and bidding dates for the $250 million combined horse track and casino that’s set to open next year in Austintown.  Penn National still has to get permission from the Ohio Racing Commission to relocate its suburban Columbus horse track to the new site. Meanwhile, Thistledown horse track in is holding a job fair this weekend at Cuyahoga County Community College to fill 600 jobs. The track in North Randall is undergoing an $88 million dollar expansion, including the addition of video lottery terminals. 

    Lawmakers to consider payment to wrongfully imprisoned man
    A legislative panel will consider a partial payment later this month of nearly $380,000 for a wrongfully imprisoned Cleveland man. A Cuyahoga County judge declared last year that Darrell Houston had been wrongfully imprisoned after being convicted in 1992 on aggravated murder and robbery charges. The Ohio Court of Claims says Houston's partial payment is the first to be processed within 60 days of the individual's release from prison since lawmakers changed the law to speed up wrongful imprisonment payouts. 

    Geese and ducks found dead in Metropark were shot
    State wildlife officials say some of the dead geese and ducks dumped along a northeast Ohio River had been shot. The 25 Canada geese and 8 mallard ducks were found dead earlier this month, their bodies thrown over an embankment at Cleveland Metroparks' South Chagrin Reservation. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says at least four of the birds had been shot.  Investigators have said previously they believe the birds were taken illegally netted and penned on private property before their deaths.

    FirstEnergy Stadium deal worth about $6 million per year
    Financial details have been released about The Cleveland Browns’ stadium naming rights deal with FirstEnergy announced this week. FirstEnergy will pay an average of about $6 million a year for at least 17 years for the right to have its name on the stadium. As previously released, the deal includes exclusive rights for the company to be the only electric energy provider to place signage in and around the stadium, among other signage provisions.

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